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Washington Malaise

March 14, 2007 1:07 AM

I had a quick chance to take a look at the renderings and photographs of the new Washington ballpark over at JDLand. I'd seen some of these renderings before, but it's nice to get a little bit of context.

It's also very cool to see what it looks like when a ballpark starts to emerge from barren land (check out the construction photos). If they ever start building our park, you'll see that type of documentation here.

Nationals Ballpark Site (Twins Site Overlay)

Site plan for the new Nationals ballpark, with the size of the Rapid Park site overlaid

But I have to agree to a certain extent with John's comment below about the looks of this ballpark. I wouldn't exactly call it "ugly", but it will probably never be taken for "soaring architecture" either. In fact, I'm struck by it's blandness and utter lack of personality. It's a good thing that they're planning to install cherry trees, because without them, this building could only inspire yawns.

It has a very massive feel, and part of that is because it's being built on a site over twice as large (20 1/5 acres) as the Rapid Park site the Twins hope to use (see image)! That means there's lots of room to stretch out and build gigantic staircases, observation towers (which will presumably offer observation of only the passing traffic outside the park), and even a full office complex. This is one very large site on which will be built one very large ballpark.

In terms of design, it appears to have almost no facade -- at least no unifying theme around the outside (or the inside for that matter). The elevation diagrams show a building which reveals its skeleton (not necessarily a bad thing), and doesn't really strive to look like anything.

I know that architectural significance was discussed and eventually required when the financing for the park was passed, but that appears to have slipped by the wayside. There is nothing significant here, and almost nothing one might call "architecture". It appears to be pure engineering.

Of course, in that respect it would follow on the history of ballparks in Washington. Griffith Stadium looked like it was put together from a box of spare ballpark parts. (We should also acknowledge that the facade our own beloved Metropolitan Stadium was essentially some sprinklings of colored brick barely concealing rusty iron). I did notice that there are two roof heights, something which may be a nod to old Griffith Stadium.

Part of my dislike is the low and very squat profile. There are no soaring light standards, and only muted vertical lines of any kind. Ballparks, seen from the side, are all essentially short and wide buildings, but adding vertical components (usually having to do with the circulation of people to the various levels) can really make a difference in the overall character of a stadium.

A memorable example of such a detail is the tower built into Wrigley Field in LA. That park also featured flags along to outside perimeter, something you may notice if you look closely at some of the Washington drawings. Unfortunately, those little flags get completely lost in the massive bulk of the Nationals new park, where they really added a touch of flair in California. I think the Washington park really cries out for some unique architectural element to make it distinctive.

So, while the park looks functional, and any new ballpark is an exciting place, there's nothing here which really makes me want to say, "Wow!"

Comments


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Good analysis. One other thing I noticed is that the stadium turns its back to the River. No one in that ballpark will know that they are long Christian Guzman flyout from the Anacosta. Opportunity lost (one of many).

Posted on March 14, 2007 at 9:59 PM by DEC Highlight this comment 1

they should have designed the ballpark to mimic the historical structures of our nation's capital. white exterior texture, archs, pillars, fountains.

Posted on March 15, 2007 at 11:08 AM by steve Highlight this comment 2

At least with this venue's field facing
the north, some fans can see the Capitol
Dome (and maybe the Washington Monument).

Posted on March 17, 2007 at 5:09 PM by Chris Highlight this comment 3

Actually, a little bit of research with Google Earth reveals that only a few fans in the upper deck near the right field foul pole will be able to see the Washington Monument.

Likewise, only upper deck fans along the first base line might be able to catch a glimpse of the capitol.

They would have had to align the playing field northwest in order for the majority of fans to be able to see both.

Posted on March 17, 2007 at 5:50 PM by Rick 4

I for one kind've enjoy the squat short feel. the view from the outside would be better if it had some tall elements, but inside the park, its better to have a wide feel. Anyone who's been inside Brewers Ballpark knows what I'm talking about.

Posted on March 22, 2007 at 1:00 PM by Mike Highlight this comment 5


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Explore the Site

Here are 50 images chosen randomly from the 3045 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.








The dessert carts came out earlier, and looked even better than last year.






Because of the scale, it's sometimes hard to realize that there are actual guys down there doing the tough work! Here they are getting ready to pour a footing.















These images are found at the top of the staircase, which leads to the Suite Level.






Marquette looking south



Louver samples on display.









The glare problem.



Imagine this!



Click to enlarge.






The Pantheon (with inset of the magic eye)



The media all turned out!



Actual LRT tracks are now in the street, and buses now pass over them before entering the transit hub.



Just lighted panels... *sigh*



Dome, what have you taken from us?



This looks south and shows the track configuration for Northstar. The platform shown is just a placeholder. To the best of my knowledge, concept drawings for this platform have not been released. Keep in mind, this is NOT part of the ballpark project. It is completely separate.



No admittance -- yet! Note that you can see the seating bolts which are in place already.



This is a background image extracted from one of the blueprint pages. It's essentially a schematic of the park (Terrace Level). In it you can see the shape of the various seating areas (to a certain extent).



Finally, a night game image -- complete with fireworks! (OK, it's either a construction photo which has been Photoshopped, or some lucky photographer spent the Fourth of July in the upper deck watching the fireworks over the river. Cool either way.)









Another classic space in the making above the Hrbek gate.



Flagpole historian Ben McEvers at far right (click for the full photo set, graciously loaned to this site by Pat Backen)






Toronto



This is a good overview of the spot where the Northstar (bottom) and LRT (top) will intersect.



The first pitch.









Look familiar? Unfortunately, just adding little balconies with cool angles will not offset the pervading ugliness.



At Comerica Park, some aisles have railings and some do not.



A glimpse of the rather plain west facade (the side which faces the HERC plant).









Bruce Lambrecht on the roof of the Minikahda building.



Believe it or not, the actual outfield wall will be about where this fence is now!



Sure would be nice to cover that metal grid with more wooden louvers, eh?






In addition to the Pro Shop facade, you can see more gravel being laid before the final plaza surface is poured.



Working on the main concourse right about directly behind the plate.



I think that's a pig up there on that vane!


Glossary

BPM - Ballpark Magic

BRT - Bus Rapid Transit

DSP - Dave St. Peter

FSE - Full Season Equivalent

FYS - Fake Yankee Stadium (see also: NYS)

HERC - Hennepin Energy Resource Company (aka the Garbage Burner)

HPB - Home Plate Box

HRP - Home Run Porch

LC - Legends Club

LRT - Light Rail Transit

MBA - Minnesota Ballpark Authority (will own Target Field)

MOA - Mall of America

MSFC - Minnesota Sports Facilities Commission (owns the Metrodome)

NYS - New Yankee Stadium

SRO - Standing Room Only

STH - Season Ticket Holder

TCFBS - TCF Bank Stadium

TF - Target Field

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